Three Punjab cities get free WiFi hotspots

Project in testing phase, to be formally inaugurated soon

Rameez Khan January 31, 2017

LAHORE: Punjab has launched Pakistan’s first free public WiFi network in three cities of the province, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Punjab Information Technology Board installed around 192 hotspots in three big cities of the province, including Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan, whereas internet coverage is being provided at an additional five hotspots throughout the two-kilometre length of Murree Mall Road.

These hotspots would provide services to over 160,000 internet users for four hours a day. PITB is also considering introducing more stringent measures to curb the surfing of indecent content.

These hotspots have already been installed at the mentioned points. PTIB is currently testing the internet usage and ensuring smooth functioning of the operation after its formal launch.

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According to PITB Director Information Technology Infrastructure Sajjad Ghani, the project would formally be launched in another two weeks’ time.

He said that the project was already operational for testing purposes. Ghani added it would cost the provincial government around Rs165 million a year.

According to the breakdown, 115 of these hotspots were placed at points in Lahore, 47 in Multan and 30 in Rawalpindi. In Lahore, some of these hotspots were installed at recreational facilities including Model Town Park and Jillani Park. WiFi would also be available at the Services and Jinnah hospitals, Alhamra Arts Council, the airport, railway station, all metro stations and other popular spots.

Each hotspot would cater to around 800 to 1500 users, depending on the traffic at the location. Every hotspot would have four to five access points to provide 100 to 500 meters of internet coverage.

Ghani said that to use the internet at any of these points, the user would have to go through a simple registration procedure. He said it would only require their name, date of birth, profession and mobile number.

He said a registered user would be able to use the internet for two hours in a go on any day. Ghani added for that for another two hours, the user would only need to provide his or her mobile number. He continued everyone would be allowed usage of four hours a day. The director said the time limit could be increased later if the need arises.

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Ghani pointed out that each hotspot has a screen display which reveals the total number of internet users connected with each hotspot, available bandwidth and data usage statistics. He said this would inform users of the existing load on that particular hotspot.

He said that hotspot had 1 MB of dedicated connectivity. The director added the connection is being provided by PTCL, which won its tender. He stressed the purpose of the installing these hot-pots was to keep people connected with the world and provide them real time information of their choice.

Ghani revealed authorities would also introduce an Android application revealing the nearest available hotspot. He said that they would continue to monitor the behavior to make need-based changes.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2017.

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